National Geographic : 1944 Jan
How We Use the Gulf of Mexico Staft Photographer J. Baylor Itoerts A Texas Drilling Outfit Sinks an Oil Well in Aransas Bay Much of all our wartime oil comes from Gulf Coast fields. Refineries are busy here, as well as factories using oil products in making synthetic rubber, sulphuric acid, and TNT for explosives. to the neglect of others. Texans, for example, don't like mullet, but the Gulf is full of them. It's full of "trash fish," too, that are now thrown away-and full of menhaden, only partly exploited; yet trash fish and tons of discarded shrimp offal are now valuable in making fertilizer and we are short of that; so, here's one good way in which we are not making full use of the Gulf of Mexico. Picking Galveston's Name from a Hat Rimming our Gulf Coast is a whole string of busy ports, each with a colorful story. I couldn't write them all. So I scrambled their names in a hat, drew blind to get a typical town, and up came Galveston! This world's biggest sulphur port stands on Galveston Island, tied to mainland by cause way. Its long, turbulent life is a kaleidoscope of wrecks, battles, pirates, hurricanes, epi demics, booms, and beauty parades. First white man ashore was Cabeza de Vaca, cast up by the sea in November, 1528. With the Narvaez expedition De Vaca landed near Tampa Bay, bringing 400 men and 80 horses to explore the Gulf Coast. Later, part of the expedition sailed on, past the mouth of the Mississippi. On the coast of Texas they were wrecked, Narvaez vanishing from history. De Vaca and a few other survivors made new boats, using their shirts for sails and sewing them with hair from horse manes and tails. De Vaca, in turn, was wrecked off Galveston Island; reaching shore, his band dwindled from sickness and hunger. Finally, after Indian trouble, De Vaca and three companions started walking west and were the first Europeans to cross the continent by way of what is now the southern United States and northern Mexico. In Sinaloa, they met up with other Spaniards. By the early 1800's Mexicans used this island as a base for privateering. Then Jean Lafitte, cultured pirate, ruled here with more than 1,000 ruffians.